Today, I’m excited to release the first version of the FI Laboratory!
The FI Laboratory is a web application I’ve been working on that contains useful tools to help you on your journey to financial independence and early retirement.
If you’ve read the classic book, Your Money or Your Life, you’ll recall that the authors suggest tracking your progress to financial independence on a wall chart.
While tracking your progress is a great idea, I can’t imagine anyone in this day and age would want to sit down with a ruler and a pencil every month so I decided to create a nice web application with sexy graphs that you can use instead.
The FI Tracker part of the application allows you to enter your monthly financial data and it automatically charts out your progress to FI and estimates how long it will take you to reach financial independence.
Tracking your progress to FI is beneficial for many reasons. Not only will it help ensure that you stay on target, it should also motivate you to save even more money. As you watch your ‘Countdown to FI’ value decrease each month, you’ll likely want to do everything you can to bring that number down even faster.
How to Use
After you sign up and log in, you’ll need to enter some of your monthly data.
To enter your numbers, click the Numbers link on the sidebar and then click the New Record button.
Each field on the New Record form contains a help icon that you can hover over to view a description of what information you should enter into the field.
The easiest way to compute your monthly numbers is to sign up for a free Personal Capital account and let their software calculate everything for you (for more information on Personal Capital, check out this post).
Most of the information you need for the FI Laboratory is displayed on initial Personal Capital screen so you can just log in there once a month to get your numbers instead of calculating everything manually (note: the Income value does not contain retirement account contributions so you’ll need to go to the Transactions page and search for ‘Retirement Contributions’ to get these values).
If you don’t have a Personal Capital account yet, click here* to sign up for a free account.
Once you’ve entered your data, you’ll be able to view the graph and see how much longer you have until FI.
The light green line shows your monthly expenses, the dark green line shows how much monthly income your assets produce (using the withdrawal rate you set on the Assumptions page), and the dashed red line shows where the dark green line needs to reach to achieve financial independence.
The red FI line is calculated by averaging your previous 12 months of expenses but if you expect your post-FI expenses to be different than your current expenses, you can set the Future Expenses value on the Assumptions page and the graph will use that number instead.
Hopefully the application is easy to use but for more information on how to use the FI Tracker, you can visit the Help page by clicking the Help link on the sidebar.
In addition to the FI Tracker, the application also contains some calculators that you may find useful as you plan your path to FI.
Time to FI Calculator
The first calculator allows you to quickly compute how many years it will take you to reach FI based on your current net worth, monthly savings rate, and monthly expenses.
Savings Rate FI Calculator
The second calculator allows you to see how long it would take to achieve financial independence based on your savings rate (this calculator was inspired by Mr. Money Mustache’s post on The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement).
I plan to add additional calculators to the FI Laboratory so if you have any ideas for ones that you think would be particularly useful, please let me know (thanks to my buddy Johnny Moneyseed for providing the motivation to create the ones currently in the FI Lab)!
I also have many more features planned for the FI Tracker but I figured I’d release the initial version now so that you can begin tracking your progress alongside the new Guinea Pig experiment.
Finally, I want to thank my beta testers (i.e. those on my email list who have been using the application for the last couple of weeks) for all of your great suggestions. The application is much better because of your feedback so thank you very much for your excellent ideas!
I hope all of you enjoy the FI Laboratory and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any requests for additional features or suggestions for how to improve the application!
* If you sign up for a free Personal Capital account using the links provided in the post, this site may earn a commission. Thank you for your support!